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Walton on the Naze
Grid reference: TM2521
Location: 51°50’53"N, 1°16’5"E
Population: 6,000
Post town: Walton on the Naze
Postcode: CO14
Dialling code: 01255
Local Government
Council: Tendring

Walton-on-the-Naze is a small town in Essex, on the North Sea coast north of Clacton and south of the major port of Harwich. It abuts Frinton-on-Sea to the south, with which it shares a civil parish.

Walton is a seaside resort with a permanent population of about 6,000. It attracts many visitors, The Naze being the main attraction. There is also a pier.

The name 'Walton' is a common one, assumed in most cases to mean 'village of the Britons'. "Naze" is Old English næss, meaning "ness, promontory or headland". In 1722 Daniel Defoe mentions the town calling it "Walton, under the Nase".

The parish was earlier known as Walton-le-Soken.[1]

Walton has an HM Coastguard team and houses Thames MRCC (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre), organising rescues from Southwold to Herne Bay.

The Naze

Main article: The Naze

The Naze is a headland north of the town. It is important for migrating birds and has a small nature reserve. The marshes of Hamford Water behind the town are also of ornithological interest, with wintering ducks and brent geese. Many bird watchers visit at migration times.

The Hanoverian tower (more commonly known as the Naze Tower) at the start of the open area of the Naze was a sea mark to assist ships on this otherwise fairly featureless coast.

The Naze is eroding rapidly (at a rate of approximately 6 feet a year)[2] and threatening the tower and the wildlife. The Naze Protection Society was formed to campaign for erosion controls. The Naze has become popular for school fieldwork into erosion and methods to protect the coast. Protection includes a sea wall, a riprap, groynes and a permeable groyne as well as drainage. Millions of tons of sand have been added to the beach to replenish it and stop the cliff eroding. However, the cliff near Naze Tower is greatly eroded. The cliff is receding fast and within 50 years Naze Tower may have tumbled into the sea like the pill boxes that can be seen on the beach.

The cliffs themselves are a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), the base of which is London Clay (54 million years old) which is overlaid with a 2-million year old sandy deposit of Red Crag. This sandy deposit contains a large number of fossils including bivalve and gastropod shells, sharks teeth and whale bones. The clay base is considered one of the best sites for pyritised fossils (mainly wood) and for bird bones (which are very rare.)[3]

Walton Pier

The original pier was built in 1830, one of the earliest in the country. It was built for landing goods and passengers from steamers and was originally 300 feet long, later extended to 800 feet. The pier was badly damaged in a storm in January 1880[4]. A second pier opened in 1871, which also did not last [4].

In 1895, the Walton-on-the-Naze hotel and pier company (then owners of the pier) opened a replacement pier 500 feet longer than the original. Several extensions have increased the pier's length to 2,600 feet; the third-longest in the United Kingdom. When the new pier opened in 1895, an electric tramway was installed to take passengers from the steamers to the front of the pier. This was in use until 1935 when it was upgraded to a battery-powered carriage. In 1945 fire damaged the pier, and the carriage was replaced by a diesel locomotive train. This was removed during the 1970s.

Today, the pier remains a popular attraction, with amusements and fun-fair rides in a hangar-type building. Beyond this, the pier extends into a promenade popular with anglers.

War memorial

The unusual war memorial commemorates a Halifax crew which all died when they crashed on the Naze. It also has a tribute to Herbert George Columbine, who won the VC and after whom the local leisure centre is named, and a tribute to those lost in First World War in HMS Conquest.

Cultural references

Walton is fictionalised as Balford-le-Nez in Elizabeth George's "Deception on His Mind."

Hamford Water and the town of Walton-on-the-Naze are the location of Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series book, Secret Water.

Walton features as a turning point in the song "Tracy Jacks" from the album Parklife by Blur. The song's character, Tracy Jacks, takes "the first train to Walton" and stands "on the seafront". (Three of the band's members grew up in Colchester from where it is possible to take a train to Walton-on-the-Naze.)

The town is referred to in the episode 'General Hospital' of the 'Blackadder Goes Forth' series. When Lieutenant George is injured and sent to the military infirmary, Captain Blackadder visits him with the ulterior motive of getting his hands on the food sent to George by his family, whom Blackadder refers to as a "collection of inbred mutants". When George retorts that his family are not inbred, Blackadder replies, "Come on, somewhere outside Saffron Walden there's an uncle who's seven feet tall with no chin and an Adam's apple that makes him look as though he's constantly trying to swallow a ballcock", to which George replies, "I have not got any uncles like that! Anyway, he lives in Walton-on-the-Naze".

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Walton-on-the-Naze)


Further reading